A California teenager is on a mission to make sure every girl can practice self-care regardless of their socioeconomic stance, race, or religion.
Kayli Joy Cooper, 17, from Los Angeles, was one of 100 students selected for the Disney Dreamer's Academy at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The academy is an annual mentorship program with a goal of creating exclusive opportunities for young people with ambition, excitement and hope for the future.
During the pandemic, Cooper heard many people online preaching about the importance of practicing self-care but noticed that many of the techniques they were teaching were not accessible to everyone.
"I'm a firm believer that self-care should not be a luxury," Cooper said. "Just because socioeconomically, you don't have access to these things, it doesn't mean you don't deserve to benefit from everything that self-care can give you."
This idea inspired Cooper to create her nonprofit Girl Well. From her own money, Cooper created 60 self-care kits containing items like a self-care book, socks and jewelry. She also included handwritten notes in each of the kits to make sure the girls knew they were valued and loved.
"During the pandemic, a lot of girls just did not have access to self-care because they're in foster care system because they were moving homes and because they were taking care of their siblings because their parents were working multiple jobs," Cooper said. "They said that this kit was something that they had of their own. And that meant the world to them that nobody could touch it like it was theirs and helped them become a better version of themselves."
After seeing the success of her first set of self-care kits, the flame to help others was ignited in Cooper. She set out to make more kits, reaching out sponsors and pitching them her mission. Now, she has a team of brands who help her create her kits.
What started at just 60 self-care kits in her Los Angeles neighborhood has now expanded to five states. Cooper partners with schools in low-income communities along with foster homes. She even carries kits in her car in case she comes across someone in need.
"The most rewarding part of Girl Well is knowing that I'm changing the trajectory of some of the girl's lives," Cooper said. "Self-love is so important, and it is a step stone to everything else that you want to do in life. Knowing that I'm building a bridge and helping connect that for girls is very, very rewarding."
Cooper said her overall goal is to provide self-care kits to any girl that needs them and hopes her organization can expand to every state in the country.
"I want to make sure that every girl, no matter their socio-economic stance, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, they know that they are valuable and that they are worthy of love, self-love, care and wellness."
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